Saturday, May 20, 2006

Minneapolis cost considerations

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The St. Paul Pioneer Press provides some of the cost consderatons that went into Minneapolis' bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

The application process is extensive and the ramifications of getting a convention involve big money. Backers of the Minnesota bids said a convention here would cost "in excess of $50 million." By comparison, a report filed with the Federal Election Commission said New York's 2004 Republican convention cost about $154 million, including $54 million for police and other services. Almost all of the money was raised by private and corporate donations and most of the police services were reimbursed through federal funds.

The Democrats were in Boston, where $48 million was spent on the convention and another $35 million was spent on police services.

For the most part, fund-raising for political conventions is without the kind of limits that are placed on election contributions. For example, the election commission report said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is independently wealthy, donated $5 million in cash for the Republican convention and paid $2 million more to cover some other expenses.

While local officials tout the exposure such a national convention would bring, as well as filling area hotels and restaurants, the economic impact of a convention on the host city also is subject to debate. Boston officials estimated that the Democratic convention resulted in a $156 million windfall to the local economy, but retailers complained that the heavy security and other factors resulted in a loss for them, not a gain.

Although network news coverage of recent conventions has declined — it was only about one hour per night on the last three nights in 2004 — local boosters say the news exposure would be invaluable.

"In terms of generating national and international exposure for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, hosting a national political convention would be beyond our wildest dreams," said Karolyn Kirchgesler, president of the St. Paul RiverCentre Convention and Visitors Authority.

Cities like Minneapolis and Denver, which may be looking for that national and international exposure, may be more willing to consider the convention costs as an investment in the cities future.